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Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Book Review: A Light on the Veranda by Ciji Ware

This is a rich mix of history, haunting harp, lush jazz and modern romance set in  the beautiful, old South, environs of Natchez, Mississippi.  

  • File Size: 1740 KB
  • Print Length: 480 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 1402222734
  • Publisher: Sourcebooks Landmark (March 1, 2012)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services
  • Language: English
Also available in print.
Genre:  Time Travel, Historical Fiction
My Rating: 4.25 of 5.0

Book Description
Publication Date: March 1, 2012
A secret may hold for a hundred years... and then it's time for the past to take revenge
Daphne Duvallon vowed never to return to the South years ago when she left her philandering fiance at the altar. Now family has called her back to Natchez, Mississippi, a city as mysterious and compelling as the ghostly voices that haunt her dreams.
From a time when the oldest settlement on the Mississippi was in its heyday and vast fortunes were made and lost, Daphne begins to uncover the secrets of an ancestor whose fate is somehow linked with her own. In a compelling and mesmerizing tale, now Daphne must right the wrongs of the past, or follow the same path into tragedy...

Daphne has had a bad choice of beaus having rebounded to a cheating fiance, Jack Ebert, after she discovered that her boss and first love forgot to tell her he was married.  Daphne agrees to return from New York to the deep south to play her harp at the wedding of her brother, King Duvallon and Corlis (from Midnight On Julia Street.)

Daphne meets an attractive photojournalist at the Monmouth, an historic plantation house turned hotel.  Sim Hopkins is in town to do a photographic documentary of the birds painted in the area by John James Audubon in the early 1800s.  Sim has been a traveling man for many years, running from the ghosts of his failed marriage.  Daphne and Sim are drawn together by attraction and something more haunting.

Daphne doesn’t want to be a one night stand for a traveling man and Sim isn’t sure he can commit to settling anywhere. While they get to know each other and try to figure out what they might have going, Daphne is struggling with more than her own painful memories of jilted lovers.  The sounds of the harp, rain and other natural melodies transport Daphne to a vision world in the past where she watches the unfolding of the tragic story of her name sake seeking love but surrounded by sorrow.

Modern day Daphne forges forward, living with her Aunt Maddie in an old family home and juggling tea time harp playing while developing a new career as a jazz harpist.  She has to cope with stalking behavior by Jack who turns out to be on opposing sides of naturalist issues impacting the community. Pressure, confusion, doubts and jealousies build when Jack brings in a top gun attorney who happens to be Sim’s beautiful ex-wife.

Ms. Ware skillfully weaves two stories with detailed research, a remarkable setting and superb storytelling. I loved the blend of the historic story and the modern romance conflict. You can visualize the lush beauty of the past as you learn of environmental issues of the present. The idea of a female jazz ensemble including the harp was fascinating and the author used the sensual sass, like the song "Peel Me a Grape", as part of the romantic seduction.

This can be read as a stand alone although you might not want to miss the first story, Midnight on Julia Street, set in beautiful New Orleans, where similar haunting time travel visions are triggered by smells rather than sounds. If you are a fan of time travel, lush settings and strong storylines, this is an author you will enjoy.  
Sense the music:
The beat, the blossoming synchronicity of the quintet, created in Daphne the distinct sensation of a key fitting smoothly into a lock, opening up a world of full-flavored, melodious sound. Location 2151
Thank you to Sourcebooks through NetGalley for providing this book for reading and reviewing pleasure.
This book is set in Natchez, Mississippi for my Where Are You Reading Challenge. It will also go on my ARC reading list.

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